Header
child development
YOUR 7-8 YEAR OLD
SKATE & SWIM, QUIZ & CRAFT, SHARE & COMPARE, READ & WRITE

KEY ACHIEVEMENTS
• Skilled choreography - controlling movement in time and space in tune with other people
• Personal identity – comparing own concept of self with others
• Thrive with others – coming to terms with the fact that people feel differently about the same things
• Consolidation of know-how and know-when – understanding when to apply different ways of thinking
• Staged learning – acting it out in order to understand past experiences
• Design the world – exploring to refine creative expressions

What to expect?
7-8 year old children have reached a new developmental stage, or milestone. Their ways of thinking are now more rational, though still grounded in the concrete; their ways of relating are more reciprocal, or “reversible”. This is the age of hard-fun and problem-solving in all aspects of life! 7-8 year-olds engage in challenging physical activities, like skating and swimming. At the same time they enjoy doing puzzles, like assembling complex pattern-blocks. They also like to share and trade, and compare themselves to peers. 7-8 years olds know that all people do not feel, or think, the way they do. More to the point, they now make fairly good guesses as to “how” others think differently. Earlier spontaneous outbreaks of creativity increasingly give rise to more crafted forms of expressions. In general children this age enjoy setting up plays, writing “poetry”, or collaborative play with peers.
..........................................................................................................
ME




USING OUR BODIES

What are 7-8 year olds interested in and able to do?

At this age children’s self-awareness, body image, and motor skills reach new levels. They master body movement in time and space, and in coordination with others through refined visual and tangible clues. As a result hand-eye coordination has improved further and so have the child’s agility, flexibility, balance, and precision. All these skills go hand in hand with reaching challenging goals, from playing baseball to playing the piano.
What specific things will 7-8 year olds like to engage in?
The 7-8 yeard old child takes advantage of their improved physical awareness and skill set as they begin to take on sports and game activities such as skating, rollerblading, swimming, dancing and playing music. Some children will join organised leagues and team sports. Others, more recently, engage in Wii games – individually or collectively. Fine motor skills are developed to the point where it is possible to learn how to sew and knit, saw and hammer. In school children begin to write in cursive script and they pay attention to balance and perspective while drawing. At the same time, their own sense of balance and perspective, or stance, in the world increases.

How to encourage and support 7-8 year olds’ interests and abilities?
At this age imitation and improvisational games are still appreciated. Though, it's most important to engage children in pursuing a skilled physical activity over time. If children enjoy swimming or dancing, give them a chance to become good at it without forcing it upon them. Let them do it with others, and alternate moments of team-work and competition. If children are into playing music, have them switch between different instruments. Let the children be the directors and stand in the background to let them orchestrate the band.

KNOWING OURSELVES

What are 7-8 years olds interested in and able to do?
At this age children begin to develop a sense of personal identity, especially in areas that interest them. They might want to be an actor, athlete or even a clown. And they will be able to describe exactly what they like or dislike about their heroes. Being conscious about themselves also means that they evaluate who they are according to how they come across to others. They try to understand rules and abide by them by being more willing to negotiate and collaborate with others. They even become better losers when they play games.

What specific things will 7-8 year olds like to engage in?
7-8 year olds are pretty good at deciding when they want to be on their own or with others. They may seek privacy or even ask for their own space without other siblings. At the same time they will want to know how they are doing in comparison to their peers. They constantly seek to improve, which may result in endless hours of throwing a ball against a wall, or getting better at video games. The desire to improve makes the children more inclined to listen to people who offer advice. They now understand how other people feel.

How to encourage and support 7-8 year olds’ interests and abilities?
Give children the space and the privacy they need and demand while staying in touch with them. Be careful that their focus on comparing themselves to others remains a positive competition. Make sure to carefully explain that all people are different and that they do not have to be good at the same things. Help them discuss what each child's strong points might be and encourage them to see all strengths as valuable even if they are not the same.

..........................................................................................................
US




RELATING TO OTHERS

What are 7-8 year olds interested in and able to do?

Children this age begin to understand and empathise with others. At the same time, they also begin to argue if they do not agree with people around them. Both empathy and standing behind one’s own ideas seem to go hand in hand! This newfound understanding is essential to negotiate differences, and enables 7-8 year olds to become more efficient as social and collaborative partners. Sometimes, their improved sense of inner justice can be turned into cruel behaviours towards peers they do not agree with.
What specific things will 7-8 year olds like to engage in?
At this age children will find ‘idols’ they look up to and identify with. They also find a best friend, who they stick together with. In general, belonging becomes important yet children will not hesitate to negotiate mutual wants and needs in order to sustain their friendships. These days, social relationships are supported by communicating via landline phones, mobile phones and computers. Sports leagues or scout groups are also popular ways to maintain friendships.

How to encourage and support 7-8 year olds’ interests and abilities?
Enhance the children’s relational, emotional, and social maturity by helping them express their feelings. This can be done by creating a safe haven to discuss the consequences of their reactions towards themselves and others. In order to teach children about positive social behaviour the number one rule is: lead by example – be a role model. Express care, understanding, consistency, and avoid moral preaching.

UNDERSTANDING OTHERS

What are 7-8 year olds interested in and able to do?
At this age, we have seen, children begin to distinguish who they are from how people see them while noticing the differences between how people appear and behave. In other words, they begin to understand two things about other people: 1) how others think can be different from how they behave and 2) how others think can be different from how children think and may vary according to place and situation.

What specific things will 7-8 year olds like to engage in?
7-8 year old children can put themselves in other people’s shoes, which in turn helps them become aware of other people’s feelings, and act accordingly. For example if they make a friend unhappy they will now be able to know how to address the sadness by bringing comfort, or cracking a joke. At the same time their ability to stand behind who they are enables them to compare themselves to others. They like to see if other people are better than – or different from – them, and try to understand why and how. They do not always like it if their peers are better, or winning.

How to encourage and support 7-8 year olds’ interests and abilities?
Try to engage in activities that help children explore their understanding of others and their own perspectives on things in different situations. Expand role-playing to address issues that involve moral paradoxes, puzzling situations, and themes aurrounding feelings. Guidelines to helping children strike balance between me and us could be: spend quality time together, communicate feelings, show appreciation and support for each other, build a common sense of purpose, family values, show commitment to each at all times, balance times for competition, or contest, and collaboration, or team-work.

..........................................................................................................
WORLD




EXPLORING THE WORLD

What are 7-8 year olds interested in and able to do?

At this age, the children have become fairly good inquirers and problem solvers. Their approach is more experimental, and they become better at putting on different lenses, and varying inquiry techniques. They are now aware that certain solutions may be affected by place or situation. Despite this rapid development, “reality” is still mostly understood to be related to concrete things you can see, hear, and touch. 7-8 olds are experts in hands-on experimentation, or systematic play.
What specific things will 7-8 year olds like to engage in?
Children’s grasp of lengths, weights, and areas has seen great improvements by the time they reach this age. In their everyday life they rarely get fooled by false appearances anymore. They now grasp hidden qualities beyond the surface of things, like substance, identity over time, volume. Children this age like to play board games, chess, and video and computer games, and more recently Wii. This is also the time where some children become collectors and like to trade cards.

How to encourage and support 7-8 year olds’ interests and abilities?
Improve children’s understanding of things by alternating ‘immersive’ and ‘distancing’ activities. Let them zoom in and out of place and situation. Get them to observe things carefully, and then have them explain what they see with their own words, or other means of communicating their observations. Help the children describe or interpret what they are observing by probing with questions like: What is it doing? What is it? How does it work? Why does it do it? etc. To make zooming in-and-out-of-context more interesting, get the children to observe the world using magnifying glasses, microscopes or telescopes.

MAKING SENSE OF FINDINGS

What are 7-8 year olds interested in and able to do?
At this age children begin to impose their own “logical” order upon things: they think more rationally, ethically and critically. This, in turn, helps them carry through arguments and draw valid conclusions based on the reason behind things. Asking ethical questions helps children understand, that there is more to life than pure logic. 7-8 year-old children know how to measure the length of things using measuring units smaller than the units compared. They can add and subtract. Many children this age begin to understand simple multiplications. Fractions are still a challenge.

What specific things will 7-8 year olds like to engage in?
7-8 year old children begin to understand the math behind the numbers, as they engage in counting and measuring. They can do simple arithmetic operations using paper and pencil, and many discover their first mobile calculator: the hands. They will use all ten fingers to count in base ten, to add and subtract. Often children this age enjoy exchanging and distributing things like: M&Ms and toys and in return they get a sense of when they or their dolls get a fair share. Also they enjoy using their body to measure the world such as marking out a distance using their footsteps or measuring things in terms of their arm’s spread.

How to encourage and support 7-8 year olds’ interests and abilities?
In general help children apply different ways of thinking according to purpose and situation. Try to invent activities that involve both exercising the children’s measuring and counting abilities. Challenge the children to go beyond using their body when measuring and introduce measuring units. Also go beyond counting-and-pointing and allow the children to explore the order and fundamental nature of numbers. Do not call it cheating when they use their hands to count, but offer them a calculator. Teach them the trade-offs between doing the math on the calculator, with pencil and paper, or using both hands

..........................................................................................................
CREATIVITY




CREATING FORMS AND EXPRESSIONS

What are 7-8 year olds interested in and able to do?

At this age, more structural forms of symbolic play, building and playing videogames become favourite activities. Here children can self improve, take risks, and act out emotions while going through various levels of increased complexity and difficulty. In other words, the "forgiving" quality of make-believe worlds such as playgrounds, LEGO play sets or virtual gaming environments enables them to cross boundaries, and take on challenges that normally would be threatening. At the same time, the rule-based nature of gaming captures their desire to play according to rules.
What specific things will 7-8 year olds like to engage in?
7-8 year old children’s adherence to rules has increased. As a result children will follow the rules if they like the game being played. It does not matter whether the rules are self established or dictated by a set game. Children begin to understand the ambiguity of words and they begin to explore all the new possibilities of meaning through the use of riddles. They will even memorise and recite riddles before they fully understand them.

How to encourage and support 7-8 year olds’ interests and abilities?
Let the children express themselves in multiple ways and help them say what they want to communicate in a language and a form that is understood by other people. Challenge them as they love to figure things out. Games like scrabble or simple crossword puzzles are helpful. Focus should be on clever and creative solutions, and not so much on right or wrong answers.

CREATING FORMS AND EXPRESSIONS

What are 7-8 year olds interested in and able to do?
Being 7-8 years of age, the children have acquired many different ways to express and communicate their thoughts and feelings. They spend much of their time using these new means to discuss character traits, motives, plots of books, and TV shows that they have watched. What is new at this age is the crafting. Their creations and expressions have become more elegantly and socially skilful whether it is through painting, building LEGO, drawing, dancing, or music.

What specific things will 7-8 year olds like to engage in?
As children learn to master phonetics and how to encode features of words, silent reading begins to play an important role in their lives. In addition, improved writing and drawing skills enable them to capture and indicate musical features of a song or rhythm. Mastering language and other expressive media prompts children to give presentations or demos in school. Musical pitch becomes a primary element of children’s musical understanding.

How to encourage and support 7-8 year olds’ interests and abilities?
Provide spaces and tools that enable children to engage in creative, and critical exploration, or mindfully creative activities. Give them the credit for things well done, and allow them the time it takes to craft things well. Watch things they like; TV shows, theatrical performances or video games. Discuss the shows with the children. Teach them to make and create things, build together and encourage them to share their creations, while at the same time gently pushing them to cultivate their critical mind. Online tools and virtual game platforms provide children with an opportunity to further improve their creative skills via social networking and kid-friendly virtual communities.

Click here to download the "Early School Years: Ages 4-8 Years".pdf from the Whole Child Development Guide.